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Draw the Lightning DownBenjamin Franklin and Electrical Technology in the Age of Enlightenment$
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Michael Brian Schiffer

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780520238022

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520238022.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 02 July 2022

. A Coming of Age

. A Coming of Age

(p.33) 3. A Coming of Age
Draw the Lightning Down

Michael Brian Schiffer

University of California Press

This chapter investigates the major technologies developed by electrophysicists from 1740 to about 1800. The public presentation of science—electricity in particular—furnished opportunities to transfer scientific knowledge and technologies of science into industrial and commercial communities. Petrus van Musschenbroek and Jean-Antoine Nollet hardly held a monopoly on sales of electrical apparatus. Georg Bose, Johann Winkler, and Francis Watkins took up the development of new electrical technology, especially machines and accessories. The Leyden jar did cause an uproar in the electrophysics community because its operation at first seemed incomprehensible. Benjamin Franklin's one-electricity theory and clever experiments enabled him to solve the puzzle of the Leyden jar. It is noted that there was no lack of attempts to build technologies which might produce new physics. The major prerequisites for conducting scientific research were curiosity and literacy, but even in the eighteenth century there were many paths to literacy.

Keywords:   electricity, electrophysics, Benjamin Franklin, Petrus van Musschenbroek, Jean-Antoine Nollet, Georg Bose, Johann Winkler, Francis Watkins, Leyden jar

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